Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 08/06/12

As the dust began to settle from last week’s flurry of roster moves, the minor leagues got back to the business of winning ballgames.

Dustin Geiger set an RBI record for Peoria, while Christian Villanueva had a smashing debut for Daytona. Not to be outdone, Dong-Yub Kim was also going deep for Boise and Justin Bour led the system in dingers for this week. While in Iowa, Chris Rusin helped stop a losing streak with an assist from Josh Vitters. A top prospect received a promotion after being awarded another weekly award while two of the organization’s top prospects received their call to the Show.

A special thanks to Neil for the great job he did with the report while I was off last week.

Note: Monday’s report will cover games from Wednesday to Saturday. Thursday’s report covers games Sunday through Tuesday.

Short Season-A – Boise Hawks (20-29)
The Hawks put up seven runs in the fifth inning on Wednesday, as the bullpen made things interesting in a 14-10 win over Spokane. Three Boise players drove in three runs apiece, as a Xavier Batista three-run homer was part of a 3-for-5 night that included two doubles. Jeimer Candelario and Dong-Yub Kim were each 2-for-5 with a double as they joined Batista in plating three runs. Lance Rymel also went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Trey Martin (2-for-6) and Dan Vogelbach (2-for-5) joined the collection players with a multi-hit game.

It was a “bullpen day” for Boise, as Su-Min Jung got the start and struck out three while allowing an earned run in three innings. Nathan Dorris held the Indians off for two scoreless innings, but the debut of Tyler Bremer yielded four earned runs in two innings. Willengton Cruz continued to baffle the experts, as the talented left-hander continued his decent by giving up five earned runs in two innings.

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On Thursday, Spokane spotted Boise a run in the first inning, and then, it was all Indians as the Hawks were blown out 15-1. The defense played their part, as six Boise errors led to seven unearned runs. Starter James Pugliese was the biggest victim, surrendering five unearned runs while striking out three in five innings. Michael Heesch ended his scoreless streak, as he allowed three runs (two earned) in 1.2 innings, while Rafael Diplan also gave up three runs (two earned) and struck out two in 1.1 innings. Catcher Lance Rymel was asked to mop up, as he completed the trashing by letting in four earned runs in the final inning. Marco Hernandez and Dan Vogelbach were the lone offensive bright spots. Hernandez and Vogelbach were both 2-for-4 with Vogelbach driving in Hernandez with the Hawks’ lone run.

Boise was shut down by Spokane’s bullpen on Friday, as the Hawks’ pen couldn’t hold in a 6-5 loss to the Indians. The Hawks started out well, as a Rock Shoulders (1-for-4) two-run blast was part of a four-run second inning. Dong-Yub Kim (1-for-4) added a solo shot in the fourth inning. Two for the Northwest League’s leading hitters also contributed, as Gioskar Amaya was 2-for-4 with a triple and an RBI, while Steven Bruno (1-for-4) drove in his 18th run. Jose Arias labored through 2.2 innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out three batters. Hayden Simpson was able to get out of a jam left by Arias, but gave up three earned runs and struck out six in 4.1 innings. Eduardo Orozco (one inning, one strikeout) let in what proved to be the game winner in the eighth inning, as he failed to shut down Spokane after Simpson ran out of gas.

After a couple of tough losses, Boise held on to score a 6-2 victory over Spokane on Saturday. The Hawks’ most effective pitcher, Tayler Scott, is third in the Northwest League with a 1.71 ERA as he tossed 5.1 innings and allowed two runs (one earned). Matt Iannazzo came back from a previous poor outing with 2.2 scoreless innings while striking out four batters. Nathan Dorris finished up by shutting out the Indians in the ninth.

Dan Vogelbach led the offensive charge by going 2-for-4 with three RBI. The Northwest League’s third leading hitter, Stephen Bruno, tried out a new position as he lined up in centerfield and went 2-for-4 with a double. Jeimer Candelario also drove in a run as he was 1-for-4.

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Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (51-59)
Wednesday’s match with Quad Cities resembled a glorified Tee-ball game, as Peoria put on a winning kick for an 11-10 victory. The teams combined for 27 hits, as only three players for either side failed to hit safely. Dustin Geiger had a monster of a game for the Chiefs, going 3-for-5 with a double, two home runs, and eight RBI. A Javier Baez (2-for-5) double brought in Pin-Chieh Chen (2-for-4, double, three runs scored) in the top of the ninth, while Geiger’s two-run blast gave Peoria the winning margin. Zeke DeVoss was also 2-for-4.

It was a day to forget for several of the Chiefs’ pitchers, starting with Zach Cates, as he struck out four and allowed four earned runs over 2.2 innings. Luis Liria added to his recent string of sub-par performances. Liria gave up three earned runs in 2.1 innings, while Larry Suarez also let in three earned runs while going 1.1 innings. Bryce Shafer restored some order as he had four strikeouts in 1.2 scoreless innings, and Austin Reed picked up his first save as he set down the River Bandits in order in the ninth.

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On Thursday, it seemed as if Starling Peralta and Dustin Geiger showed up for the Chiefs, but no one else as they lost 6-4 to Quad Cities. Peralta struck out six and allowed three earned runs through five innings, but the defense and the bullpen failed to back him up. Justin Berg tossed two innings and gave up three unearned runs as he failed to pitch around a two-out error by Wes Darvill. Sheldon McDonald came in for a scoreless inning, but the damage had already been done. Dustin Geiger followed a big day on Wednesday by going 3-for-4 with his 14th homer and a double. Bijan Rademacher was 2-for-4, while Pin-Chieh Chen went 2-for-5 with a double and two RBI.

The Chiefs wasted another good starting performance on Friday, as Peoria would end up losing 4-2 to Quad Cities. Yao-Lin Wang appears to be stretched out and ready for his starting role, as he went 5.1 innings and allowed two earned runs while striking out six batters. However, veteran Jeffry Antigua failed to hold, as he gave up two earned runs in 1.2 innings. Pete Levitt pitched a scoreless inning with two strikeouts. Javier Baez remained a wrecking crew offensively, as he was 2-for-4 with his 12th home run and 20th stolen base. Zeke DeVoss was also 2-for-4 with a double.

Saturday’s 8-1 loss to Clinton was a total team effort, as a non-existent offense was no support to some poor pitching performances. Saturday night was a night that all knuckleballers dread. With Joe Zeller’s dazzler simply not at its best the Lumber Kings teed off for six runs (five earned) in 3.2 innings. Larry Suarez kept Clinton at bay as he went 2.1 scoreless innings and struck out three batters. Luis Liria remains totally out-of-sync as he allowed two earned runs in an inning. Bryce Shafer mopped up by striking out two batters in two scoreless innings. Chadd Krist was the entire offense for the Chiefs. Krist was 2-for-4 with double and a solo home run

High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (50-61)
Daytona pushed their win streak to four on Wednesday with a 2-1 victory over Fort Myers. Rehabbing pitcher Lendy Castillo started for the D-Cubs and struck out four while allowing an unearned run in four innings. He then turned things over to a veteran bullpen, which then shut down the Miracle for the rest of the way. Eduardo Figueroa went three innings and was awarded the victory while Scott Weismann earned his third hold by tossing 1.1 innings. Jeffrey Lorick struck out the only two batters he faced for his second save. Rubi Silva (1-for-4) drove in both of Daytona’s runs. John Andreoli and Taylor Davis were each 2-for-4, while Ronald Torreyes went 2-for-3.

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A couple of the D-Cubs flexed their muscles on Thursday, as they pushed their winning streak to five with an 8-2 win against Fort Myers. Newcomer Christian Villanueva (2-for-3 with two home runs and two RBI) blasted home runs in his first two at bats for Daytona. However, Villanueva’s homers came close to overshadowing the output of Ronald Torreyes. Torreyes drove in three runs as part of a 2-for-3 performance that included a home run. Both Rafael Lopez and Tim Saunders went 2-for-4. Saunders swiped his fourth base while Lopez pilfered one of his own. John Andreoli remained the table-setter with a 2-for-5 effort that included a double.

Robert Whitenack continued his comeback from Tommy John surgery and went 3.2 innings with three strikeouts while allowing an earned run to cross the plate. Designated piggy-back pitcher Ryan Searle virtually repeated Whitenack’s performance, giving up an earned run in 3.1 innings and striking out five batters. AJ Morris slammed the door for the final two innings.

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All good things must come to an end as Daytona could only translate nine hits into two runs as they lost 8-2 to Fort Myers on Friday. It wasn’t an outing Kyler Burke would want to put in his scrapbook. Burke allowed three earned runs and committed an error while striking out four batters in five innings. Newly assigned Kyle Hendricks posted a scoreless inning, but Hunter Cervenka was tagged for three runs (two earned) as he struck out two in two innings. No dramatics from the offense in this game. Rubi Silva had the only RBI as he was 2-for-4. Vladimir Frias was 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored.

Saturday saw one of the organization’s best pitchers have a hiccup, as Daytona lost 12-5 to Dunedin. Matt Loosen was sporting a 10-3 record going into the game, but gave up seven runs (four earned) in two innings. Scott Weismann didn’t fare much better, allowing three earned runs in 2.2 innings. Eduardo Figueroa let in two more earned runs in his 2.1 innings. Only Jeffrey Lorick was unscathed, as he struck out two in a scoreless inning. Cuban nationals Rubi Silva and Elieser Bonne were each 2-for-4 with an RBI, with Bonne adding a double to his total. Rebel Ridling joined them in going 2-for-4 as he also hit a double and had a solo home run.

Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (55-57)
After completing Tuesday’s suspended game on Wednesday, the Smokies played their regularly scheduled game as part of a seven inning doubleheader … and Tennessee edged Pensacola 1-0. Dallas Beeler usually excels at these types of games, and Wednesday was no exception as he struck out two over five scoreless innings. Brian Schlitter finished up by shutting down the Blue Wahoos for two innings. Justin Bour (1-for-2) was all the offense the Smokies needed, as his solo home run was the difference. Junior Lake, Nelson Perez, and Matt Cerda also collected hits.

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Tennessee threw a new pitcher into the fire on Thursday and wound up getting burned as they lost 6-1 to Pensacola. Recently acquired from the Texas Ranger organization, Jacob Brigham started and allowed three runs (two earned) in three innings. Zach Rosscup had long duty that evening, and kept the Blue Wahoos in check for five innings by striking out four while giving up only one earned run. Tony Zych was then hit for two earned runs in the final inning. Logan Watkins managed the Smokies’ only two hits that included his fifth home run of the year.

When rain made the field unplayable on Friday, a doubleheader was scheduled with Jackson on Saturday. In the opener, Tennessee came out on top of a see-saw affair, winning 6-5. Nick Struck allowed the Generals to take a one run lead in the second inning. Struck allowed three earned runs over five innings. In the third inning, Matt Szczur (1-for-4) doubled and came home on a Junior Lake (2-for-3, two RBI) single. A single by Justin Bour (2-for-3) put runners at the corners, as Michael Burgess (2-for-4, two doubles) doubled them home. The Smokies took the lead in the fifth as Logan Watkins (1-for-4) tripled and scored on an error off the bat of Lake. Bour then delivered his 13th home run to put Tennessee ahead for good. Frank Batista gave up a leadoff home run, as well as another earned run, in the sixth, but collected himself in the seventh to earn his 20th save.

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The nightcap had Tennessee fans holding their breath, as a furious rally fell just short with the Smokies losing 8-7 to Jackson. Long reliever Casey Harman was asked to spot start and was up to the task, striking out four and allowing an earned run through three innings. Casey Weathers relieved and gave up three earned runs in an inning of work. Kevin Rhoderick was then lit up for four earned runs in 1.2 innings. Infielder Dustin Harrington got the final out of the sixth inning. Justin Bour tried to carry Tennessee on his back offensively as he was 2-for-2 with two walks, a two-run home run, three RBI, and a stolen base. Michael Brenly was 2-for-4 with two runs driven in, while Nelson Perez also plated two runs as he was 1-for-4 with a double.

Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (43-72)
The losing streak reached five games on Wednesday as Iowa had a host of new faces in their 11-6 loss to Colorado Springs. Taking the mound was Ty’Relle Harris, up for the third time this season for the I-Cubs. Harris went four innings and allowed five runs (four earned) while striking out four batters. However, Jay Jackson imploded for six earned runs in only one inning. Michael Bowden ate some innings with three scoreless that included six strikeouts. Jaye Chapman also added a scoreless inning. Playing at his third level this season, Greg Rohan said hello to Pacific Coast League pitchers by smacking two home runs and driving in three runs. Rohan was 3-for-4 in his Triple-A debut. Brett Jackson had a double and triple as part of his 3-for-5 evening. James Adduci also had a triple as part of a 2-for-5 performance that included a RBI. Josh Vitters (1-for-3) plated two and hit his 16th home run.

Make it six in a row as the I-Cubs couldn’t make more than four runs out of thirteen hits on Thursday, losing 7-2 to Colorado Springs. Both Josh Vitters and Dave Sappelt were 3-for-5, but neither could drive in a run. Greg Rohan followed up his debut by going 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI. James Adduci was 2-for-5with a double and a RBI. Brooks Raley, on the eve of being named organizational Pitcher of the Month, allowed six earned runs and struck out five in six innings. Marcus Hatley had three strikeouts over two scoreless innings, while Jairo Asencio gave up an earned run and struck out two batters.

Iowa allowed one to slip away from them on Friday, as the losing streak reached seven in a row, dropping a 4-1 loss to Colorado Springs. In one of his better performances of the season, emergency starter Ryan Rowland-Smith allowed only one earned run while striking out six in six innings. Esmailin Caridad was able to keep Colorado Springs off the board for two innings while recording two strikeouts. But Jaye Chapman let the game get away. Chapman gave up three earned runs in the ninth. Josh Vitters continued to swing a hot bat. Vitters was 3-for-4 with a double, and newcomer Jeff Frazier was 3-for-3.

Leave it to Iowa’s main man to finally break the streak, as the I-Cubs went away a 5-1 winner over Colorado Springs on Saturday. Josh Vitters three-run homer in the top of the eighth was the nail in the coffin, as he was 1-for-4 for the evening. Iowa actually took the lead in the eighth on a James Adduci (1-for-4) RBI single. The game had been tied at 1-1 as Dave Sappelt (1-for-3) singled and scored on a double play in the fifth.

Chris Rusin had everything working for him Saturday night. Rusin struck out eight and allowed only one earned run in seven innings. Rusin also helped break up a no-hit bid with a single in the third. However, Michael Bowden was the recipient of the Adduci and Vitters RBI, as he picked up the victory with a perfect eighth inning. Jairo Asencio also had a perfect inning in the ninth.

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News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs recalled RHP Chris Volstad and RHP Alberto Cabrera from the Iowa Cubs; placed RHP Blake Parker at the Iowa Cubs for a rehab assignment; optioned RHP Casey Coleman to the Iowa Cubs.

The Iowa Cubs placed RHP Rodrigo Lopez on the 7-Day disabled list. The Tennessee Smokies assigned RHP Ty’Relle Harris, IF Greg Rohan, and C Juan Apodaca to the Iowa Cubs; activated RHP Jacob Brigham; assigned RHP Kyle Hendricks to the Daytona Cubs.

The Daytona Cubs assigned IF Matt Cerda to the Tennessee Smokies; placed SS Elliot Soto on the 7-Day disabled list; signed IF Vladimir Frias; assigned SS Tim Saunders to the Peoria Chiefs.

The Peoria Chiefs assigned SS Javier Baez to the Daytona Cubs. The Boise Hawks released RHP Roderik Pichardo; assigned RHP Pierce Johnson to the AZL Cubs. The AZL Cubs assigned RHP Lendy Castillo to the Daytona Cubs.

The Cubs optioned Tony Campana to Triple-A Iowa; purchased the contract of OF Brett Jackson from Triple-A Iowa and recalled IF Josh Vitters from Triple-A Iowa.

The CCO’s Prospect Watch

Note: Dillon Maples, sixth in the pre-season reader’s poll, has resumed play and has been added to the top prospect list.

  • Javier Baez (IF) – . 333, 10 doubles, five triples, 12 home runs, 33 RBI, 20 stolen bases (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Jeimer Candelario (3B) – . 287, seven doubles, five home runs, 31 RBI, two stolen bases (Boise Hawks)
  • Zeke DeVoss (2B) – .232, 20 doubles, four triples, four home runs, 29 RBI, 29 stolen bases (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Junior Lake (IF) – . 292, 17 doubles, two triples, seven home runs, 32 RBI, 16 stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Dillon Maples (RHP) – 0-0, 3.38 ERA, 2.2 innings, two strikeouts, four walks, 1.88 WHIP (Arizona Cubs)
  • Matt Szczur (OF) – .172, two doubles, RBI, stolen base (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Ronald Torreyes (2B) – .271, 19 doubles, four triples, six home runs, 42 RBI, 13 stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Josh Vitters (3B) – .304, 32 doubles, two triples, 17 home runs, 68 RBI, five stolen bases (Iowa Cubs)
  • Dan Vogelbach (1B) – . 333, 11 doubles, two triples, seven home runs, 30 RBI, stolen base (Mesa Cubs/Boise Hawks)
  • Robert Whitenack (RHP) – 1-5, 6.25 ERA, 40.1 innings, 27 strikeouts, 22 walks, 1.91 WHIP (Daytona Cubs)
  • Tony Zych (RHP) – 0-1, 7.94 ERA, 11.1 innings, 15 strikeouts, seven walks, 2.29 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)

Jorge Soler, Albert Almora and the AZL Cubs
Tim Sheridan sent the CCO a link to a video he produced that features footage of Jorge Soler, Dan Vogelbach and several of the younger players in the system. Tim Sheridan also had a chance to sit down with Albert Almora.

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Quote of the Day

"When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all." – Theodore Roosevelt